Village Wok Restaurant: Playing with sauces

What determine whether a dish is good? There are several factors, the freshness of the ingredients itself, the skill of the chef, and of course the sauces that are used in cooking the food. Sauces are vital to the overall taste of the dish, in simple terms, they helped to “colour up” and enhanced the food.

What will you say if chili crabs are served without the thick and spicy gravy sauce, or how about your burger without any mayo sauce? These are some simple examples, but i’m sure you got the idea. Village Wok Restaurant is a showroom for The Village Wok sauce room. Their core business is actually being a sauce distributor, and the restaurant itself is the place for their customers to sample the sauces.

Village Wok restaurant is located at Far East Square, Telok Ayer Street. I had the chance for a food tasting session there organised by Yebber, courtesy of Village Wok’s owner Miss Dawn. A table of 10, consisting of long-time yebbers and some new faces join us for this meal. The Central Business District (CBD) is virtually a ghost town on weekends, and when we went for lunch during a Sunday, there wasn’t anybody around, and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves.

Although the restaurant isn’t their main business, that doesn’t mean that the food there isn’t good, in fact it has to be good so that their customers get to taste their excellent sauce with the good food. The food at Village Wok has a large part to do with their sauces, so i thought it will be appropriate to introduce some of the sauces that we had.

I sweared by their sweet and spicy chili dip (top picture), like the name implies, the sauce is spicy with a hint of semi-sweet, excellent to go along with finger food like chicken wings and fries. There’s also the chili dip (right) which can be use for all kinds of dishes, but go especially well with chicken rice.

Popiah DIY $20++/set

We started off our meal having some hands-on experience with the popiah DIY set. Now there isn’t much places which actually allow their customers to do-it-yourself (DIY) with popiah, and i have to admit the process’s very much fun and all of us enjoyed “playing” with the popiah. From what i understand, each popiah set can serve 6 people, personally i felt that the price was rather steep but for the experience of doing our own popiah, its rather worth it.

The restaurant prepared the ingredients like shrimp, lettuces, cucumbers, and the turnips (bangkuang), the popiah skin, and the sauces needed for the popiah.

Everything was done in an orderly manner, you’ll just need to put all the sauces, and ingredients onto the popiah skin.

Our fellow Yebber busy wrapping her popiah.

And there we have it, our very own DIY popiah. Please don’t be deceived by the ugly appearance of the popiah, i guess our popiah-making skills aren’t up to the mark yet, some of us managed to do the popiah quite decently, while some were out of shape and doesn’t resemble¬† a popiah at all. Nevertheless, the popiah fillings were fresh, and the sauces used greatly enhanced the flavor of the popiah, not to mention that it’s made from our very own hands.

Chilled crab with special vinegrette sauce ($30++ per crab)

The chilled crab on its own was fresh, but eaten with Village Wok’s special vinegrette sauce it did really compliment the meat very well. Their vinegrette sauce was made from top grade vinegrette with their special recipe of course, and it taste slightly sweeter than your normal sourish vinegrette. Having said that, i’m neither a fan of crab nor vinegrette.

Fried Brinjal with crispy squid in BXO sauce ($15)

Unfortunately, the next dish wasn’t my favorite neither, i also didn’t like bringal. But for food tasting sake, i gave the fried bringal a try and to my surprise it doesn’t taste as bad as i had expected bringal to be. The purple vegetable was fried with crispy squid using their special BXO sauce, and it wasn’t as brinjal-ish as i thought. The crispy squid added some extra crunch to the dish, but overall it wasn’t to my personal liking.

The Phoenix soars ($21++)

Very nice name indeed, the phoenix soar is quintessentially roast and white boneless chicken. Both chicken tasted as nice, so we were having a debate as to which one was nicer. Some preferred the roasted chicken, while some found the white chicken tastier.

The yin-yang chicken came with lettuces wrap, together with some cucumbers, tomatoes provided it with some healthy touch. And of course chilli and garlic sauce, this made an excellent dish which we couldn’t get enough of, the chicken was gone in a flash.

Black pepper ham leg ($23++)

The black pepper ham leg or pig trotters was really one dish that lingered in my mind even after the meal. Usually I didn’t really fancy eating pig trotters because of the thick layer of fatty meat, but this one was exceptionally good. Under the skin was a layer of fats, the meat below was lean to eat. And it came with Village Wok’s black pepper sauce.

For those health conscious eaters, simply remove the layer of fats below the skin. We lamented the fact that we took too long taking photos of this, which resulted in the crispy skin being a tad soft when we started eating.

Village Wok Celebration Parade ($22++)

A combination of Village Wok mustard roast pork and BBQ pork char siew. Again we couldn’t agree on whether the roast pork or the char siew was better. The char siew was tender, juicy and fulsome with the BBQ sauce. Another thing to note, Village Wok didn’t use any colouring, so the char siew here wasn’t red in colour which was evident in the usual ones.

But I always favoured roast pork over the char siew counterpart, the mustard roast pork did not disappoint, crispy layer with really tender meat. The portion of fats to meat was well balanced, not too fatty and not too lean.The roast pork, or sio bak, was really one to die for.

Steamed Pating fish with preserved vegetables ($44++)

I always had the belief that fresh water reared fish won’t be as nice and fresh as seawater fish, but the pating fish here proved that there’s always an exception to everything. According to Miss Dawn, Village Wok actually had their own fish farm to rear the fishes, so freshness was definitely guaranteed.

They used preserved vegetables, or chye poh to steam the fish. It wasn’t came out to be as salty as i had expected because they had specially soaked the chye poh in water to reduce the saltiness of the preserved vegetables. Nevertheless, i preferred my fish to steam with either salted soy bean, salted vegetables, or light sauce.

Smiling fortune noodle ($8++)

The smiling fortune noodle was Village Wok’s rendition of prawn noodles. Tangy noodles harmonised with delectable fresh prawn essence, topped with big fresh prawns. The stock base was no doubt tasty, but too salty for our liking. There was a rush for water after finishing the noodle.

Home-made Nonya Kaya with bread

We had a plesant surprise when they served bread with nonya kaya for our first dessert. The Nonya kaya was home-made from Miss Dawn’s grandmother recipe.The kaya was made without any flour, and was very eggy in taste. I liked it, but i did find the kaya flavor a tad strong, nonetheless we generously spread our thin slice of bread with super thick layer of kaya!

Black glutinous rice with coconut ice cream ($4.50)

I did not find the glutinous rice with coconut ice cream that special since i didn’t really like black glutinous rice. But the rest unanimously agreed that this was the must-have dessert.

Lemongrass ice cream

The lemongrass ice cream was another mystery to me as i couldn’t figure out the flavor of the ice cream initially until somebody pointed out it was lemongrass. I guess its due to the fact that Thai cuisine isn’t really on my radar often, but like what the others mentioned, the lemongrass flavor was very evident, and if you like the scent of lemongrass, this will do it for you.

All in all, Village Wok Restaurant did a great job matching the food with their speciality sauce, there was a different sauce for every dish, and it complimented each other very well. Prices are generally slightly higher, but given the comparison with other Chinese restaurants, they are still considered within range.

I heard that they are very crowded during weekday lunch as the office working crowd like to frequent the place, so do make reservations in advance before going. Once again, i’ll like to thank Yebber, and Miss Dawn for the food tasting session.

Village Wok Restaurant
80 Telok Ayer Street
#01-01 Far East Square
Tel: 6743 9743
Disclaimer: This was an invited review